Church Boutique Hotel - Lan Ong

Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi & North, Vietnam Book from US$63

Reviewed by Emma Love
A calm, quiet bolthole in the heart of the charmingly chaotic Old Quarter
The Old Quarter of Hanoi thrums with life whatever time of day. A constant stream of honking scooters weave their way through the warren of well-signposted streets (so many that, at first, we wondered how we would ever manage to cross a road); clusters of shop owners sit outside their shops chatting, and sellers with conical hats balance baskets on their shoulders as they power-walk their wares around.

You could easily miss the narrow entrance to the hotel, as all the buildings here are narrow and stretch back, but once you step inside the cacophony of noise fades away and all is calm. This characterful hotel opened in 2012 and has 42 rooms, all with chic Asian design details. It is equally suited to solo travellers, friends, families and couples, and ideally located for exploring the Old Quarter. The Yen Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily, but really, you'll want to spend your evenings eating out, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this cool capital city.

Highs

  • Right in the heart of the Old Quarter, which is exactly where you want to be
  • An easy walk from Hoan Kiem lake and its famous red bridge
  • Good value considering the location and style. Our rates include breakfast, tax and service, which other websites may not
  • Staff are friendly and speak good English
  • The Junior Suites are spacious, well worth paying the extra for, and some have a small balcony overlooking the street

Lows

  • Recent guest feedback has been mixed, citing patchy service and maintenance, though it still seems to be the best budget boutique in Hanoi's Old Quarter
  • Classic rooms only have an inner window looking out onto the stairwell, so they feel quite dark and lights need to be switched on all the time
  • Some of the bathrooms are tiny
  • No pool or outside communal space
  • There's no window in the restaurant

Best time to go

This is a 365-day city. Hanoi is in the north of Vietnam so at times temperatures are much lower than the rest of the country. Spring (Feb-April) and autumn (Oct-Nov) are the best times to visit. The rainy season is May to September; the driest months are November to May. Make this your last stop before heading home; then you won’t have to lug all your shopping around with you.The hotel is open all year.

Our top tips

  • To explore at a relaxed, steady pace, stay around 3 days in Hanoi
  • Watch a traditional water-puppet show, accompanied by a Vietnamese pit orchestra; reception can advise
  • Great for...

    Cheap & Chic
    City Style
    Family
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 42
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    Room: Deluxe 01

    Rooms

    Rooms are attractively decorated with chic Asian design details: mirrors with a wooden lattice either side of the bed, a black and white landscape mural on one wall and a neutral feature wallpaper on another. There are mahogany desks, padded bedheads, white duvets pepped up by silk cushions, and laminate floors.

    The 42 rooms fall into 4 categories: Classic, Superior and Deluxe rooms and Junior Suites. Spread over 7 floors, the rooms are all 20 sq.m - the difference is the amount of natural light you get, and the view. The Junior Suites are bigger, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors overlooking the street; 501 and 601 have balconies so these would be our top choice. 501's has a table and chairs.

    At the other end of the scale, Classic rooms have a small internal window, which means that the rooms are dark and your lights have to be switched on at all times. It’s worth paying extra for a Superior or Deluxe if you can. However, all rooms are kitted out with mod cons, regardless of the category you choose: WiFi, iPod docks, satellite TV and air con.

    Shower bathrooms vary in size (some are only big enough for 1 person to stand in at a time) but all have own-brand toiletries and bathrobes. Four of the Junior Suites (201, 301, 401, 501) have baths as well as showers.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cots Available
    • Desk
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Ipod dock
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Safe box
    • Satellite tv
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    Breakfast is included in the room rate, and eaten in the long, thin, ground-floor Yen Restaurant. It’s an adequate buffet-style affair that offers something for everyone: cornflakes, toast, an English cooked breakfast, cold ham, fruit and croissants. There's a traditional Vietnamese option of beef noodle soup, rice and vegetables.

    Yen is also open for lunch and dinner, although during our stay we didn’t see anyone eating here at either mealtime. There are set menus or à la carte options. At lunch the focus is on Vietnamese dishes; dinner is more international with club sandwiches, pasta, burgers and fish on the menu.

    The Old Quarter has plenty of restaurants within walking distance and staff will happily give recommendations. We liked Madame Hien, tucked away on quiet Chan Cam Street. It has a pretty outdoor courtyard with lights and lanterns hanging from the trees, and tiled mosaic tables. You can watch the chefs preparing the handmade spring rolls and rice pancakes.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Coffee tea making
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    Eating: Restaurant
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Wander around the shops in the Old Quarter. Each street specialises in a different type of shop: for good Vietnamese coffee try Hang Giay Street, for silk scarves explore Hang Gai Street, and for traditional handicrafts and art galleries, Hang Be Street is a good bet
    • Take a morning stroll around Hoan Kiem lake, which has the Ngoc Son Temple on an island at the north (reached via the famous red bridge) and the Thap Rua ('turtle tower') in the south. You’ll see plenty of joggers and locals doing T’ai Chi
    • Head to the French Quarter to visit the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and museum (next door to the President’s Palace), and the One Pillar Pagoda
    • Or drop into the Temple of Literature, once the site of Vietnam’s first university, which dates back to 1070 AD
    • Learn about Vietnamese life at one of Hanoi’s many museums. We enjoyed The Ethnology Museum, 7km out of town, which explores Vietnam’s ethnic groups. It's easy enough to take a cyclo or moto taxi there
    • Reception can book you onto an overnight cruise around Ha Long Bay, where 1,500 limestone rocks rise from the sea. It’s a 3.5-hour drive from Hanoi

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets
    • Traditional cultures
    • Well being

    Kids

    Children of all ages are welcome. The hotel can provide cots for babies and rollaway beds for older children. A child up to the age of 6 sharing a bed with their parents is free of charge, with a free breakfast. 7-11 year olds are charged 50% of the standard breakfast charge if sharing their parents' bed. 12+ year olds must sleep in a rollaway bed, which has a supplement charge.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    All room types can fit 1 child if sharing parents' bed. The Junior Suites can fit 1-2 baby cots or rollaway beds

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots
    • High chairs

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kid Friendly: Superior 06

    Our guests' ratings...

    5/
    Rooms
    5/
    Food
    6/
    Service
    6/
    Value
    6/
    Overall

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